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As part of our ongoing efforts to share information, the UET Online Magazine features important announcements on events and learning opportunities for bargaining unit employees. Listed below are links to specific timely information for UET Members. Create or update your User Profile by clicking myUET to receive program updates and the UET Online Magazine by e-mail.

Issue 7: 12/17/2009
Time to study – how to learn as an adult
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12 Successful study strategies for the adult learner

(From UET’s Career Counseling. For more Career Counseling information, go to: www.uedtrust.org/UETPrograms/CareerCounseling.)

  1. Take a learning styles assessment before you begin your course of study. You will learn how you best absorb information: visual (reading or seeing), auditory (lecture or listening), kinesthetic (hands-on experiences and experiments) or a combination.
  2. Take a self-assessment to determine if you are a good candidate for distance learning or online classes or more of a traditional classroom setting.
  3. Set realistic goals for managing your time between family/home and your classwork.
  4. Discover your key productivity periods and places (morning, afternoon or evening). Find a study space where you can be the most focused and productive.
  5. Work on concentration. Eliminate distraction and focus on the task at hand. Stick to a routine. If you need a study break, do something different like going for a walk. Avoid daydreaming by asking yourself questions about the material as you study it.
  6. Use memory aids: acronyms (take the first letter of each word and make up a new word or sentence), mneumonics (think of a phrase or idea to help you remember the concept), rhymes (like “’i’ before ‘e’ except after ‘c.’”), and pair familiar information with new concepts.
  7. Find other adult learners at work or at your school and create a support network of similar students.
  8. Build on your prior knowledge and life experiences when difficult material is presented in class.
  9. If you are commuting, use that time in the car to review information in your head, or listen to taped lectures.
  10. Don’t hesitate to get help when you need it.
  11. Use your family as a resource when you are studying. Teach someone the material you are learning or have them help you study.
  12. Study regularly and always as if you were getting ready for a test. When it is test time, ask your professor or teacher for a sample exam to use for review.
The last time many OCSEA eligible state bargaining unit employees were in a classroom, everyone took notes by hand, did research using the card catalog at the library, and were more concerned with their social lives than their grades.

Continuing your education as an adult learner looks quite different today. You can take notes in a notebook or by typing on your laptop or netbook. Most research is done on the Internet and you might not even be sitting in a classroom when you are “in class” – you may be taking your class through a distance learning opportunity. It’s likely your priorities have shifted as well: Now you’re juggling a family, a full-time job and your responsibilities.

And there’s that niggling fear we all have that we’re not as sharp or alert as we were when we were young. Can we still learn new skills and information?

Of course we can – everyone can – no matter what their age or time out of the classroom. But you may go about doing it differently than in the past.

Because it is different, a good first step is to consider what that means in practical terms for you as an adult learner. A career counselor will talk you through those details, according to Marion Wangugi, career development facilitator at Pickaway-Ross Career and Technology Center.

“We will feel the callers out for how much they’ve thought about that,” Wangugi said. “We’ll ask a few questions about their learning style and strategies.”

Strategies such as finding a good time of day to devote to your classwork: A time when you are alert and focused without distractions, preferably when your energy is at its peak.

“It could be that you need to go for a walk first to rejuvenate yourself,” Wangugi said.

Once you’ve found the time, find the right place. Make sure it’s not too relaxed so you can stay focused.

“You need to find that quiet space that you can claim as your own, Wangugi said. “Alert your family members that now it’s study time and they’ll need to operate independently of you.”

But only for so long! Study in blocks of time, but keep them manageable so you can stay focused. If you can, vary the subjects or class to stay fresh.

When you take notes in class, use an outline form and keep your notes brief, Wangugi advised. Refer to the class syllabus to make sure you’re catching the main points. You’ll probably develop your own system of shorthand and abbreviations.

When you are reviewing your notes or text, don’t go overboard with your highlighter: Just use it to mark the main phrase or keyword, not the entire paragraph.

“If you’re someone who uses a highlighter, go light with it,” Wangugi said, adding that it helps to highlight a phrase or keyword and then slow down to focus, giving your mind time to take in the additional detailed information.

One learning technique when you are reading information is to preview the pages by flipping through them and noticing subheads and how the information is organized. Then read the pages thoroughly and carefully. When you’re done, try to recall the main points and details. Finally, review the text again.

And don’t procrastinate! Re-read your classwork and notes while they are still fresh in your mind. Jump right into any projects that are assigned by planning how and when to complete the work.

Take advantage of all the study and research assistance available through your school. You may even want to take a tour of the campus or facility to learn where various offices and resource centers are located. The easiest one to find? Union Education Trust’s Career Counseling is just a phone call or e-mail away. Contact the counselors at (800) 980-6973 weekdays from 9 a.m.-3:30 p.m. or e-mail: uet.career@pickawayross.com.